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Wagging the Dog

(February 2010) posted on Thu Mar 11, 2010

Wagging the Dog

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By Craig Miller

That vision thing
Six, be the Terminator: Task all of your managers to make an objective assessment of each employee. Make your own notes. This may sound cruel, but the reality is we are in a time of double-digit unemployment. It’s an employer’s market. If there was ever a time to lower your tolerance level for less than stellar performance and attitude, this is it. Occasionally, we will get someone who is functionally poison to the team. With any under-performing employees, we believe in constructive feedback and a chance to prove themselves worthy of a job. If they can’t become an asset, though, we have become quicker to show them the door. There has never been a better pool of competent and appreciative people just dying for a good job.

Seven, fall back in love with the planet: This may sound like strange advice during the tail-end of a recession. However, it will become a competitive advantage. Come up with a plan to sell at least two truly green products. Look around your plant and see if there is some way to make your building more energy efficient. Shut down stuff, turn off lights you don’t need. Call the power company and ask for an audit (it’s free).

Eight, it’s that vision thing: Use your imagination to look for markets not normally served by large- and grand-format digital printing. We have some projects and products for 2010 that are so far outside the box that I’m not sure we can find our way back in.

Nine, you’re not married to what you sell: Re-evaluate your product line. Are there things you do that have become so price marginalized that they don’t make sense to continue? Try to eliminate products that are no longer profitable unless you can justify it for a strategic reason. Spend your time, money, and energy chasing only the good business.

Ten, get down and give me ten: Begin a mental and physical-fitness program for you and your key employees. Motivate all of your employees if you can. It’s surprising how easy it is to reduce stress, increase energy, and generally improve the quality of your life. And it’s not just about working out. Plan quality time as if it were mission critical, because it is. Dedicate time to family, friends, and a favorite activity. Health is worth working for.

Making a commitment
Commit yourself to being physically as well as mentally prepared for the challenges of the year ahead. It certainly doesn’t hurt that you will feel better and live longer as a result of this type of commitment. As you read this, it may be a bit too late for your personal New Year’s resolution, but it’s never too late to get your business into shape.

Craig Miller is president of Pictographics ( in Las Vegas, a large-format-graphics service bureau that excels in digitally dyed textiles, wall coverings, and custom applications.